Saturday, October 18, 2008

Hospice Gratitude by Barbara Quinn

I am most grateful for hospice workers. These selfless souls don’t get enough credit and they certainly are underpaid for the work that they do. A couple of years ago I was lucky to have my father spend his last days at Calvary Hospital in the Bronx, NY. Calvary is a hospital that only takes terminal cancer patients who have less than six months to live. The workers there are dedicated, caring, and make the end of days as comfortable as possible for those who are in residence. It’s an amazingly upbeat place with activities, music, and even a bar cart that circulates in the evening to the patients rooms so that anyone, patient or visitor, who wants to can indulge can. And there’s a similar snack cart filled with goodies of all sorts. This is not your usual hospital experience or food.

My father, in his last days, developed bile duct cancer, one of the stranger diseases that the human body is capable of falling prey to, and that’s how we wound up at Calvary. There is no easy way out of this world, but at least in a place like Calvary you have a team helping you. And we needed that team. One of the nurses was most kind in explaining exactly what to expect to me. Death is not the most cooperative of visitors. I am still grateful for her taking the time to walk me through what might occur, and grateful that she honored my father’s wishes to not be connected to tubes or wires. He was alert and cracking jokes till almost the end. What a comfort it was that he was able to be pain free and be with his family at the end. When he was no longer able to speak, he still squeezed my hand. Always a wise man, his ending was in his control, and was his final gift to his family.

Recently, my mother-in-law passed away. She suffered for many years with Alzheimer’s. Again, it was a hospice worker who kept me company and offered advice while I sat with her on her last day. That presence helped me greatly. These people simply do not get enough credit. So I send out a big warm thank you to all who work in the dying fields. Your work is important, difficult, under-appreciated, and oh so necessary. Thank you for being there!


Kathryn Magendie said...

To be there at someone's ending is a terrible beauty-

Thank you Hospice.

Angie Ledbetter said...

Like teachers, doing the hard job not many will/can, and doing it with grace and kindness. Wish both got paid what they were worth.

Patresa Hartman said...

Spectacular people, I imagine. I would guess you cannot sign up for a job like that and not be filled with all kinds of beautiful things.

Anonymous said...

Some of the best people on this rock. Helped my Mom with my Grandmom and her last days.

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